Short Notes on Cassava, Cocoa, Palm Oil and Palm Wine
Agriculture especially the production of cash crops such as Cassava, Cocoa and Palm oil have remained very central to supporting the Nigerian economy even after its years of glory. With its huge population of over 200 million and growing these listed crops have hugely supported both the formal and informal sectors of the economy with feed and industrial inputs. Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava, with about 50 million metric tons produced annually from an area of about 3.7 million hectares. Its importance cannot be over emphasized since it is a basic staple food to more than 70% of Nigeria’s population.
Cassava is grown throughout the year throughout Nigeria thus making it a crop of choice. It displays an exceptional ability to adapt to climate change, tolerance to low soil fertility, resistance to drought conditions, pests, and diseases, and suitability to store its roots for long periods underground even after they mature. There are more than 40 cassava varieties in use and it is grown commercially in 24 of the country’s 36 states, with an average yield per hectare was 10.6 tonnes
Cocoa farming is one of the major agricultural activities in Nigeria and Africa, with Nigeria being the fourth-largest producer of cocoa in the world. In Africa, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon are the largest producers of cocoa, accounting for over 70% of the world’s cocoa supply. According to the International Cocoa Organization, Africa produces about 70% of the world’s cocoa beans, and the global cocoa market is expected to continue growing due to increased demand for chocolate and cocoa-based products.In Nigeria, cocoa is primarily grown in the southwest region, with Ondo, Ogun, and Ekiti states being the major cocoa-producing states. The cocoa industry in Nigeria provides employment opportunities for over 300,000 people, with the potential to create more jobs through value addition and export promotion.
Nigeria has been exporting cocoa beans for over a century and remains a major exporter of cocoa beans, accounting for about 4% of global cocoa bean exports. Cocoa farming has the potential to significantly contribute to Nigeria’s economy, with the country targeting to increase its cocoa production from about 250,000 metric tons to 1 million metric tons annually by 2023.
Despite its potential, cocoa farming in Nigeria and Africa is faced with several challenges, including poor farm management practices, low productivity, diseases, and pest infestations, among others. However, with the right support and investment, cocoa farming can be a viable and profitable business venture for farmers in Nigeria and Africa.
Currently, Nigeria occupies the fifth position in the league of palm oil producing countries, with 1.5 per cent or 1.03 million metric tonnes of the world’s total output, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Nigeria was overthrown as the world’s largest palm oil producer by Malaysia and Indonesia in 1966. From its vantage position as the leading exporter of the produce, the country is now a net importer, depending largely on other countries to meet the huge sup ly gap over the years. Currently, Nigeria is the largest consumer of the produce in the continent, consuming approximately 2.5 million metric tonnes yearly, while domestic production stands at less than 1.3 million metric tonnes.
Palm wine is one of the very few alcoholic beverage drinks with very high nutritional benefits. The fact that it is tapped from nature, and can be consumed without industrial processing endears it to many people in several parts of the world. The natural drink is derived from the sap of different species of palm trees including the Raffia palm, date palm and Palmyra. With advancing technologies its shelf life is being extended thus making it exportable and expanding its market beyond the locations where it is produced.